Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element
Let’s get this out of the way first: two members of Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element are long time diskanteers. That might be the reason they’ve played both diskant gigs or it might just be that they’re a great band that has reviewers frantically searching through a thesaurus to find a way of describing their sound. Sunnyvale seem to be getting sadly overlooked in the new avantelectropostkrautrock crossover scene that’s going on but that’s probably because nobody can remember how to spell their name correctly.
Having just self-released a lovingly hand-packaged collection of live tracks and EPs to follow up their well-received debut album on Field, we thought it was time to find out what’s up in the world of Sunnyvale and what they have planned for the diskant anniversary show.
Members, and what you do in the band:
Stuart Fowkes: beats and electronics, bass and keyboards
Simon Minter: guitar
Giles Borg: guitar
Location: Oxford and London
What do you think you sound like, and how different is that from what other people have said or written about you?
SF: In true band cliche style, I think we play the music we do because it doesn’t sound quite like anyone else. Rather than becoming an electronic band with guitars stuck on top (see Apollo 440 – horror!), or a guitar band flirting with electronics on the side (a la 65daysofstatic), we try to give absolutely equal importance to both aspects, both in terms of the sound and the way the songs are structured. The most common format for a Sunnyvale review though, is ‘X meets Y’ – see for example ‘Kraftwerk remixed by Shellac’, or ‘Sonic Youth die flirt met Amon Tobin, een snufje 65 days of Static, het explosieve van Circle en op momenten kijkt Fennesz nog even om de hoek’, which leads me to believe we could be huge in Holland.
SM: We sound either not experimental enough, or not mainstream enough, depending on my frame of mind at the time of listening.
Which is your favourite of your own tracks and why?
SF: ‘I Love You Every Time You Smile’, because it’s our big Hit Pop Single and gives me an inordinate amount of pleasure to play live, and ‘This Far And No Further’, because I’m proud of the unpleasant sounds I glued together to make the backing track. Both are about girls. Robot girls, probably.
SM: ‘How Spiderman Was Tricked By His Wife’, because it’s a proper song, with no wastage.
What’s so great about Oxford?
SF: It is equally beautiful in summer and winter, in completely different ways. Almost every touring band that comes here feels the need to make a joke about universities and education. It has a thriving, excellent music scene for a city of its size. Every day you can walk past some of the most amazing buildings in the country. It isn’t Swindon.
SM: I used to live in Reading. Since moving to Oxford I have not been (a) followed by a maniac, who had mistaken me for somebody else, who I later learnt had recently thrown another adversary from a motorway bridge; (b) doing the same thing week in week out, with the same people, in the same locations; (c) introduced to a notorious Chelsea Headhunter.
If there was a Sunnyvale tribute band, what would they be called?
65daysofstatic. Ho ho ho.
What have you been listening to/reading/playing/watching lately that you’d recommend?
SF: Music-wise, I’ve been loving The Oscillation, Zombie Zombie, Epic45 and the new album by Avrocar. I also saw Nosferatu done with a live soundtrack by Pram, which was fantastic. Film-wise, track down Kingdom of the Spiders starring William Shatner, which deftly crosses back and forth across the line dividing genius and disaster throughout its running time.
SM: Listening to – Grails; Circle; new Beck album. Reading – piled-up back issues of The Wire and Sight & Sound (aren’t I hip). Playing – with my new iPhone, which is a joy to own. Watching – The Dark Knight. Wall-e.
Who are you favourite trios?
SF: Harmonia, This Heat, Liars, Unwound, Second Toughest…-era Underworld.
SM: No idea. I have enough trouble remembering band names, let alone the numbers involved.
What’s the best thing you’ve seen or found on the internet lately?
SF: I’ve been filled with the technojoy recently, and loving Tumblr, Muxtape, Last.fm and on a more mundane level Google Reader. Plus XKCD and old favourite my new fighting technique is unstoppable, which are both great. That and two girls, one cup.
SM: Ooh hey, probably some kind of blog or twitter or some other inane, flash-in-the-pan Web 2.0 bollocks that advances nothing but the dissemination of pointless, self-obsessed non-facts.
Tell us something about you we’d never guess
SF: I once spent an entire day on one drum sound for the album, which must lead me to the inevitable conclusion that I need to get out more.
SM: I’m petrified of dentists.
What’s coming up next in the world of Sunnyvale? Do you have anything extraordinary planned for the diskant show?
SF: We’ve just released a limited-edition live and remixes album. It comes in a little cardboard box filled with unspooled cassette tape and looks rather lovely. We’re taking a break after the diskant show from playing live to write three new tracks that are simmering away in the background. So extraordinarily it’ll be the last chance to hear, umm, the same set we’ve been playing for twelve months. In a good way.
SM: ‘A break’, that is, until somebody else offers us a gig! I’m going to set myself on fire at the show in Glasgow. Either that or play the usual slightly awkward, unrehearsed show to a crowd of strangers.
Anything else you want to tell us?
Is it too shameless to mention that if you join our mailing list over here, you can have six of our songs, for free like?
Records we can buy:
More Than 20 per cent – live tracks and remixes
Box Three, Spool Five – album
Techno Self-Harm – EP
I Love You Every Time You Smile – 7″ single
Asking For Trouble – split 7″ box set